TOKYO - FIFA could help negotiate the
release of Japanese players from European clubs for July's Copa
America after the country pulled out of the tournament following
last month's deadly earthquake and tsunami.
Japan Football Association (JFA) President Junji Ogura
expected a decision to be made by FIFA after emergency talks in
South America, local media reported on Saturday.
Ogura met his Argentine counterpart Julio Grondona earlier
this week and was persuaded to rethink Japan's pullout as guests
at the July 1-24 tournament in Argentina.
"Grondona knows (under FIFA rules) European clubs do not
have to release their players for the Copa," Ogura told Japanese
reporters. "He called (FIFA President Sepp) Blatter and Blatter
has said he would consider changing the rules.
"Grondona knows that there are many Japanese players who
play in Europe and told me CONMEBOL would take responsibility
and negotiate their release."
There are currently 28 Japanese players at European clubs
and Ogura is also set to make a fresh plea with J-League sides
A 9.0-magnitude earthquake and massive tsunami on March 11
killed more than 12,000 and has left over 15,000 still missing
and thousands more homeless in north-east Japan.
The J-League, as with most of the country's professional
sports, has been thrown into chaos.
"I was very moved (by Grondona's offer)," Ogura told the
Nikkan Sports newspaper. "I would like to sit down and talk to
the J-League about it."
Japan, who played as guests at the 1999 Copa America in
Paraguay, were drawn with hosts Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia.
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